I'm big on story (one of my most popular talks is about leadership and storytelling). Maybe it's my previous career path as a budding pastor. Maybe it's my enjoyment of a compelling movie or book. Or maybe it's how all of us are deeply connected as humans.
Regardless, I always take note when there's a chance to hear a good story. I pull up a chair, put down my phone, and listen. I hope you're able to recognize a great story when it dares you to listen.
And right now in my life, there are three storytellers I'll always make time to listen to:
1) Vince Durnan - Director, University School of Nashville
Vince is the head of the school my daughter just started. As such, I've had the chance to listen to Vince spin some yarn, at gatherings such as the kindergarten parent dinner and the Dad's Alliance meeting (yes, that's a thing and I go every time and not just because they have tasty cinnamon rolls). Vince seems to babble a bit, but the moral of each story he tells punches you in the gut in a way so you ask - out of breath - for more. He's a natural at mixing humor and education, emerging from a ramble to somehow drive home a poignant point. When he's speaking, I'm bound to listen, especially since his three daughters are now grown and out on their own.
2) Rosemary Brown - Pastor, Monroe Street United Methodist Church
When I'm in town, I attend Monroe Street each Sunday. Rosemary, at 79 years old, delivers a sermon each week that doesn't always make you feel good, but it makes you reflect for most of your week. Her stories, both personal and pastoral, gathered over the years seem to spill out of her, and tears along with them sometimes. Her voice may break or she may let loose a chuckle but such pure emotion accentuates a tremendous lesson. This sincerity makes me want to infuse more emotion into what I share, and not in a manufactured kind of way.
3) Lindley Davidson - Kindergartener and daughter
She'll tell me something about school. Or a conversation she had with a friend. Maybe she'll share a dream she had or an idea she thought of (as improbable as it may seem). She'll freely share her emotion or even take a stab at a poem every now and then:
And each time, I'm captivated.
What strikes me about these three storytellers isn't their polish, but their personal touch. It's not their hubris, but their humanity. I'm learning to be a better storyteller from them by remembering that I don't have to have a perfect story; I just need one that's perfect to me.
I talk to a lot of people who want to be speakers. I'm going to stop telling them to work on their mechanics or well-crafted content. Instead, I'm going to tell them to let their heart overflow and then make sure their mouth keeps pace.